"Listen to the words that others can't speak; speak the words that others can't hear."

Monday, June 4, 2018

When Life Doesn't Go as Planned...

In 8th grade, I had to do a scrapbooking project as part of my final grade in English class. We were asked to put together a scrapbook and were given certain writing prompts to pick from to include in our books.

One of the ones I picked was about “where I [would] be 10 years from now”. At 13 I had to write about where I would be at 23... if you don’t want to read the whole thing below, I’ll give you a bulleted version:

  •  Graduated college
  •  Fulfill my perceived version of my fathers dreams and become a vet
  •  Live on my own or with a fiancé and five dogs
  •  Dream job
  •  Other career options: doctor, animal cop, nurse, veterinary assistant



 







So, to be honest, at 23 I had like a fifth of one of my dreams checked off the list... actually, to be really honest, at 23 I did get my own place, and also had a suicide attempt that same year and had to give up having my own place.

So the path I took was nothing like what I thought, hoped or expected it to be. I don’t have a degree, or my dream job, I JUST moved out of my parents house a few months ago and I am not even in a relationship so fiancé isn’t even in the near future... and although this is not where I dreamt I would be, I still know that I am blessed and eternally grateful for where I am today.

If life had gone as planned, had I not shattered into a thousand different pieces, I wouldn’t have met all the wonderfully-imperfect people I’ve met today... the ones helping to put me back together again.

I’ve had to learn to be humble and ask for help when I need it. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them too. I’ve learned to set boundaries. I’ve had adventures some people never get to experience, sure, it may be because they happened in a hospital or residential treatment, but trust me— they are adventures nonetheless. Cue: “who left the bag of vomit in the stairwell?” And: telling stories of whose gone the longest without pooping.. adventures. No joke.

I’ve lost.. a lot. I’ve lost friends, family, money, time.. but I’ve gained my life, at least for now. And I know this is a moment of clarity because in reality I’ve been really depressed lately, but I am grateful to still be here and fighting this fight. I’ve also built relationships that I know will last a lifetime and have an outpatient team that supports me 100%. My therapist has been through hell and back with me and she still smiles when she opens the door to see me every week.. sometimes twice a week. If I had to sit and listen to myself talk in circles on a weekly basis for the past six years, I probably would have quit on me by now (but I guess that’s why I have her right?!).

I am grateful. I am blessed. I am not where I thought I would be, but I am much better than I could be. I may not have everything I want, but I have pretty much everything I need. And for those that have stuck around, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Congrats, you met and exceeded 13-year old me’s expectations! (see photo below)







Peace to you tonight—

Bella









Saturday, March 24, 2018

On a Monster They Call “Ed”

They say that it gets better, 
But when will that day be? 
We’re holding it together, 
As we’re falling to our knees. 
Sending prayers to nowhere, 
Feeling so alone, 
One foot in front of the other,
Feeling worse, they say you’ve grown. 
“Grown in your recovery, not as bad as you once were,”
They keep saying all this nonsense, and still, it’s all a blur. 
Precariously we listen, follow and concede, 
Exceed the expectations, 
Trusting we’ll be freed. 
An alcoholic stops their drinking, 
A drug addict stops the pills, 
Not comparing illnesses—
It’s all about your will.
Your willingness to give in, 
Or your willingness to fight,
We’re fighting for recovery, 
And just to do what’s right.
Brittany, Heidi, Morgan, Steph—
A reminder to us all, 
This illness has no limits, 
It laughs each time we fall. 
“A cancer of the mind,” they say, 
A monster they call “Ed”, 
To me it seems as though
We should name him “Death” instead.
Yet death seems so appealing, 
When Depression’s in the game, 
That’s why I’m keeping tabs
On each of my friends names. 
Say them loud and say them clear, 
And let it all be known, 
That even though they fought for freedom
They’re now just names on stones. 
That’s why we can’t just give up, 
We have to fight like hell, 

Until this is a story of redemption, truth and courage..
and recovery as well. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the past and the future.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Not For the Faint of Heart (or Stomach).

This past week I had a session with my dietitian. It went as it usually does, I stay surface level, we make goals for next week, I get weighed and leave to go see my therapist right after. She said something this week though that grasped my attention... "I feel like you're keeping me like.." and then she held out her arm as if to say, "at a distance". I am. I always do. My dietitians never know as much as they maybe should. Why? I give them just enough to know what's going on but not enough to really know. They wouldn't stick around if they knew.

Okay, maybe I don't know that for a fact, but I feel like that's true... you know? I'm going to give you an example but it's not going to be a personal one, it is something that has truly happened, but not to me. I had a friend years ago who had somewhat recently started purging. The thing with purging is that over time it gets easier and easier, and it's safe to say it gets nastier, more careless and just well, gross.

So this friend of mine had gone to a party, she'd been drinking and she ate more than she normally would. She texted me saying that she didn't know what to do because she had made up her mind that she was going to purge, so the more she ate the more her body wanted to push it out. She went to the restroom but didn't make it to the toilet and had to throw up in the sink. She texted me saying that she didn't know what to do, she was currently scooping cheesecake out of the sink, she felt terrible and just wanted to go home. I know this sounds like a young high school girl who just drank too much and got sick, but that's not the case. She wasn't drunk and she didn't "get sick", she purged. Her body purged. It's hard to explain, but once you see it, you get it. I've been in treatment with women who throw up so much they can't sit through a meal without throwing up. I have literally sat next to someone who was asked to step up to a higher level of care because she would throw up into her plate as we were eating. We felt terrible for her, and hated her all at once, because with this disease it is very much mind over matter.

Back to my point, these are things you can't just throw out in the middle of a session... or maybe you can, but I have a hard time doing it. A couple weeks ago I told her that many times I turn to carbs over other foods because carbs are "harder to get rid of". I was hoping I wouldn't have to go into details on that one, and thank God I didn't. I feel like each week I test the waters a bit, putting more out on the table hoping that she doesn't just stand up and walk out. So far, so good-- but we'll see how long that lasts. It's hard to trust when your trust has been broken so many times.

I'm going to go back to this topic at the end, but I do want to give a short update first-

It's been a bit of a rough go lately, but things are definitely much better than they've been in the past. I've been feeling like I'm barely keeping my head above water, but with everything going on, I think barely above is better than it would normally be. I'm trying to stay focused on work and just doing what I need to do. I can't take care of anyone if I don't take care of me.

I have a really great manager and I'm doing pretty well in my new (maybe not-so-new) position. I work with a pretty great team and I get to work with my best friend so you know, that's always a plus! I just got my yearly evaluation which lined up with what I thought I was going to get, my numbers are looking pretty good (I should be working from home soon) and I got a 100% on my first monthly quality review! So yeah, work is going well.

Even though all that is going well, I'm currently struggling with feeling a constant void. Like, something is missing. Something isn't right. This is a difficult time of the year for multiple reasons, so it's not too surprising, but it's still not any easier to deal with. I feel like I'm constantly reaching for something to make the emptiness not as strong. I've noticed though, that the more empty I feel emotionally, the more I yearn to feel empty physically. Maybe that has to do with not wanting to feel emotions. Maybe it ties back to self-harm and preferring to feel things physically and externally rather than dealing with them internally, and yet, maybe it doesn't. I don't know, but I don't like it.

Maybe I just need more Jesus in my life. Maybe I need to reconcile my relationship with my higher power. Maybe I don't. Maybe I have the right to be fucking furious. I don't have the answers, but I hope to find them soon.

My dietitian asked me to think of food rules and write them down this week, so I thought maybe it'd be a good idea to share them with you guys... I have two reasons for this:

1) You can call me out on these rules if you see me having a moment and
2) It's possible some of y'all have rules of your own that you don't realize you have, so maybe seeing some of mine will help you see your own or maybe those of someone you care about.

So here it is--

FOOD RULES


  1. There are no good foods, but there are definitely better foods. 
  2. Food is an inherently bad, yet necessary part of life.
  3. Eating is a chore and it always will be. 
  4. If you're hungry, drink water first. 
  5. Most people eat one meal a day, no reason for 3 meals and 3 snacks. 
  6. Carbohydrates such as bread, grains, and desserts are bad (delicious, but also the devil)
  7. Meat is disgusting, don't eat it. 
  8. You shouldn't eat after X time.
  9. Eating in order is better because you'll fill up on the "good" food first and not eat the bad food. 
  10. Eating is shameful
  11. Eating around other people is disgusting
  12. Feeling full means you ate too much, get rid of it. 
  13. No eating outside of "normal" meal times, pig. 
  14. Just don't eat in general. You have enough in your system for a lifetime. 
  15. You're supposed to be counting calories, but you don't anymore, that is sickening.
Okay, so here's the thing... I noticed something. I'm trying really hard to not go back and change this, but I definitely noticed it. When I first started typing these rules I was having a hard time, I am trying keep myself separate from my ED, and when that happens I tend to completely shut off that side until something triggers it. Well, so 15 rules took about 25 minutes to write. Mostly the first five or so took a while, but then something shifted and they just started coming out. The thing is, I feel like you can see the shift. I kid you not, I have not gone back and changed anything... But my eating disorder definitely took over on some of those. 

I feel like I need to share these, but I also don't want to trigger anyone reading this, or give any ideas, so in order to try to keep myself and my readers safe, I'm going to write counter thoughts to the rules above, feel free to read them, or skip it if you'd like, but if you read the rules I'd encourage you to read the counter thoughts... 

COUNTER THOUGHTS 

  1. Every food serves a specific purpose, there are no good or bad foods, they're all just different. 
  2. Again, there are no good or bad foods, the breakdown of it is all the same. Your body doesn't know the difference between cake and fruit, it all breaks down and gets separated to go where it all needs to go. 
  3. Eating doesn't have to be a chore. Eating can be fun, it can be enjoyable, it can help build friendships, relationships and it can even be inspiring. Trust me, if you've never sat around a table of eating disorder patients helping each other finish a particularly tough meal, you can't say food can't be inspiring. 
  4. Drinking water to fill your stomach does you no good. It will only fill you up for the time being, but in the end you are still going to feel the hunger pains and are only going to end up binge eating or sick (or both!)
  5. There is a reason for three meals and three snacks, it boosts your metabolism, gives you energy throughout the day and keeps your GI system moving at a steady pace.
  6. Carbs are good for a quick energy boost. There is no devil food, there is no bad food, there is no bad food. It's all just food!!! 
  7. Ehhh, this one is hard. Meat is... meat. I have a harder time with it, part of it is that it's played a major role in my ED, and part of it is just something I struggle with morally. Everyone has their own beliefs on this one, but there is no denying that eating meat goes back longer than absolutely anything else on this planet, so maybe it's safe to say it's truly just the circle of life?
  8. Eating shouldn't have a time limit. Saying that we shouldn't eat after X time is inaccurate, because we are all on different schedules. I have read that it's better not to eat right before bed in order to get a better rest at night, but I don't even know how accurate that is. 
  9. Since there are no good or bad foods, the rule about eating in order has already been disproved. It's funny because this one has always been hard for me, so when I was in treatment they kind of gave up on telling me not to eat in order so I was stuck making myself miserable because I couldn't break this rule but I still had to eat all my food. I will say, it gets better and easier over time. 
  10. Eating is NOT shameful. Eating is necessary to survive and you shouldn't feel ashamed of wanting to live, and honestly, not just live but to thrive. 
  11. Eating around others is a part of life, eating alone is pretty miserable honestly. I remember when I was younger (and this could actually go back to the shame thing), I would refuse to eat alone. If I was hungry I'd have to convince someone to eat with me or just not eat until everyone else did. It's a part of bonding and community, it is not disgusting.
  12. Feeling full is normal and it will pass. Nothing more to say to that, the full feeling will pass.
  13. Oh God, this was my ED speaking and I feel like I've already addressed this one. I'm going to move on because honestly, I'm embarrassed to even share this one. 
  14. I deserve to eat, feed and nourish my mind, body and soul. 
  15. When I was counting calories, I was consuming double digits each day. I was very sick and honestly just killing myself. I have decided that counting calories does me no good and I prefer to first off trust my treatment team with that and second, to trust that my body will do the right things with whatever I give it. 


This has been a very long post. I had more I wanted to say, but it is now 2 am and I'd honestly be surprised if anyone actually read all of that. I will update with more within the next week, but for now I'm going to stop here. 

Feel free to comment, share or send me a private message on your own food rules (or mine)! Also, I'm going to try to write more often, so if you have any topic you'd like me to address, feel free to let me know in some way. I'd actually like to get to know the people that actually read my stuff, so please, let me know you're here!! I'm working on a poem, so look forward to reading that and hold me accountable for posting.

Peace to you all tonight, 

Bella 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where Do I Even Start?!

It's weird, at first I thought it was a sick joke that all these celebrities were dying each day at the beginning of the year. At the same time politics seemed like another cruel joke, more celebrities going into rehab or being hospitalized, more death... Then I had friends start passing away, I wasn't sure if people in my own family would make it, I started feeling like I might lose my own battle with mental illness and finally when I decided to voluntarily (somewhat involuntarily) sign myself back into treatment... well, I guess that's when I knew this year wasn't messing around.


This year is almost over, and boy were our parents right when they said "life isn't always fair". Needless to say, I can't wait for this year to be over with.


On Friday I got a fortune that read "the current year will bring you much happiness". I don't really buy into that stuff, but I found it very ironic because it seemed like the current year was trying to kill me... Then I thought about it for a while and honestly, God is so good you guys!


The beginning of this year was so tough. Most of you know very little if any of the stuff I had to deal with during the first half of the year, but let's just say it was a lot. Through it all though, God gave me the strongest support group I could have ever asked for. He gave me co-workers and a supervisor that supported my decision for treatment. He gave me a treatment team that only cared about my wellbeing.


Then, after all that was said and done, I was given the opportunity to interview for a new position and I got it! So as much as I want and probably could complain, God has been good to me this year.


I can agree that the current year will bring me much happiness because it already has. I'm not waiting for something to make it a good year, I made the decisions necessary to make it a good year. Don't get me wrong, a lot of bad stuff has happened, but I have been able to move past that, to not hold on to the negative.


The other day, when I got into my little accident, my first reaction was to think that already, this day sucks. At seven o'clock in the morning I had decided that my day was ruined, all in the blink of an eye. I took some deep breaths and stepped out of the car. The man in the other vehicle smiled and said, "don't even worry about it, it's raining, it could've been any of us." After we traded insurance information he told me that he hopes my day turns around and that I have a good day. That small gesture flipped a switch in my mind that said this doesn't have to ruin your day. Start over. It's never too late.


So instead of calling in to my first day of training, I drove my messed up car all the way to Arlington and turned my day around.


A part of me is still very sad and angry. I guess those are my go-to emotions. I am angry about the accident, I am sad that our family's dog passed away. I am sad that I won't ever get to work with some of my old co-workers anymore. I am angry at things in the past.


I also realize that all of those things, they don't define me, my life, or my future. I realize that amongst the bad, many good things have happened.


I'm just blabbing now so I'll stop, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that you shouldn't count yourself out just because things don't seem to be working out. I personally believe it's all a part of a bigger plan, but if you don't believe in a higher power, you can tell yourself it's the universe. After all, in a world like ours, I hardly believe in coincidences.


Stay true to yourself,


Bella


PS- My dad told me the other day that my grandfather said he can now die at peace. He beat Fidel. I love that. I love that he outlived the man that caused him and the family so much pain and anguish. Fidel, all I have to say is, "se acabo lo que se daba."



Sunday, October 9, 2016

Life Lately. :)

I'm not really sure where to start. It has been a long couple of months.


"You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortal will never again strike terror." -Psalm 10: 17-18


When I first started treatment at Eating Recovery Center of Dallas I was very hesitant. I have done this so many times before and this time I wasn't sure I was ready or even wanting recovery. From the very beginning my team was extremely supportive and pushed for what they knew was best for me, even when I pushed back.


Kara, my therapist, wanted me to live in the apartments so that I could practice what it's like to live alone (in this case with roommates). I was afraid that moving in would give me more freedom to act on my behaviors, but after thinking about it for some time I packed my bags and moved in. They are letting me stay free of charge, normally it's $50 a day. I cried as she explained to me that I was deserving of the help I was getting. I cried because I felt (and sometimes still feel) like I don't deserve help. I'm the only person in this world that can't recover.. I've come to realize that is not true.


Kara wanted me to do family therapy with more than just my family, so I volunteered my best friend Aimee for the task. We had a couple sessions and I was able to open up to her more and tell her when I was having urges to act on something and what exactly the urges were. Let me tell you something, being truthful about urges is extremely vulnerable and difficult; I believe we grew stronger in our friendship because of this.


At ERC they talk a lot about values. I had never thought about my values because I simply didn't think it was important. I have always felt like I am going to die young, so why even bother? Kara had me do an exercise with 100 cards with values on them, I had to slowly eliminate cards until I got to just five. Sounds simple, it is much harder than you would think. My top five values were: 1) Inner Strength 2) Creativity 3) Spirituality 4) Family 5) Safety. I am working on figuring out how these play out in my life and what I want to do with them. I believe God has exciting plans for me and my future.


Lastly, my transition back to work has been trying. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and I know I am good at it, it's just hard to balance work, treatment, meals, therapy, doctor's appointments and try to still have a social life amidst all of that. I think I've been doing well. I had the privilege of seeing a friend I grew up with just last week and my heart is still so joyous! I've reached out to old church friends and started going to weekly Mass. Unfortunately, now that I'm working 12 hour shifts on the weekends I won't be able to go for a bit but I do want to work harder to go back to church and renew my faith.


I haven't been writing as much as I'd like to, but I am making an effort to use my creativity and share it with the world. I've been drawing more and working on some poetry. I guess I can end with my most recent poem. I told my therapist I thought it was too depressing to share it with anyone, but she assured me that I only think it is depressing because I am depressed. I hope she is right. Slowly but surely I feel this pain is lifting. My team let my employer know that I struggle with ED, depression and PTSD so that I can be honest and take advantage of my meals and breaks to actually eat. I've noticed that by simply feeding my body, my mind and soul have benefited as well. Anyways, here is the poem I wrote just a couple of weeks ago. :)


Alone
Alone in the darkness,
Mind wanders.
Feeling, feeling too much.
Feeling nothing at all.


Alone in the darkness.
Alone in my thoughts. Alone.


The pills make the pain subside,
But when will I see the sun shine again?
When will a smile come without forcefully
willing my lips to turn upward?


Upward I go in my dreams...
A land unknown, a land for people like me. 


People like me weren't born for this world.
A world of anger and hate,
Shame so deep it runs through our veins.


We breathe in. We're drowning.
We breathe in. We are free.




Peace to you,


Bella

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sitting in my garbage.

I've been trying to gather my thoughts for a while now, but today something happened that gave me a nudge (or really a hard kick) in the right direction.

My best friend asked me to go to church with her, and with as angry as I've been with God I didn't want to go. I also have a lot going on right now and know that when I have felt this lost and confused in the past, God has been the only one that stood by me. Even when it felt like even He gave up, He turned out to be the only one walking beside me. So I got out of bed, put my big girl panties on (quite literally actually) and faced it. I faced the hurt, confusion, anger and SHAME, walked right into that church and sat in my garbage.

I felt so naked and was sure that everyone could see. But you know what? Whether they knew me well enough to know or just shook my hand for the first time today, I felt welcomed. I haven't felt welcomed (even on this earth) in quite some time now. It was incredibly refreshing. An amazing thing happened in that moment... As soon as the first worship song started playing and everyone stood up to praise, the only thought going through my head was, "Why am I telling myself all these terrible things?"

Now, y'all know my background and you know what I struggle with, so there's no need to explain the things I tell myself, but I'll go ahead and do so anyway. I had thoughts like, "you don't deserve to live", "you are a waste of space", "you're fat", "you're ugly" and "nobody loves you" running through my head. That's just to name a few. But in that moment of stillness and clarity, when I wondered why I was bullying myself, Romans 8:1 popped in my head.

Now, I don't read the bible very often. I don't know many  books, chapters or verses by heart, but this one I remember because back in the day my friend Jessica Volcansek (now Steel) sent me an email telling me that when I cry, Jesus cries with me. This verse was included in that email and although it's not usually in the forefront of my mind, when I need it, it comes back.

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." 

The verse goes on to say, "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." But I just kept repeating to myself "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ". No condemnation. It doesn't matter how long I've turned my back. It doesn't matter what church I choose to attend. It does not matter if I'm angry, sad or shameful. I am loved and wanted and welcomed in His eyes. That is truly all that matters. 

Ironically enough, as I sat there and cried,  the pastor talked about how words have the strength to heal or the power to hurt. I have been hurting myself with my words. I have been beating myself down with the negative things I tell myself. And I have been ashamed to admit it because doing so means admitting that I have a problem, that I am struggling incredibly with depression, with my eating and with self harm. But I am willing to do so today. And I am willing to come to you and to God and to say that I need help right now. I cannot do this on my own. And I feel so lucky to have such an amazing friend, whose family has shown me so much love and support. They have prayed with me and for me, they've spent both night and day with me when I have felt so alone and afraid. I honestly don't know how I could ever repay them... But I also don't think they expect that. 

I have been stronger this time around than any of the times in the past. My work has not suffered, but my home and personal life has gone down the drain. I have been able to keep myself just barely above the surface. 

I'm rambling now so I'm going to stop there. I will say that I am getting help and getting on a different medication regimen. I have agreed (in order to be able to keep seeing the therapist I have been seeing for years now) to start outpatient treatment. I promise to choose my words wisely and I have chosen to start writing, as well as sharing my writing, with the world again. 

I can't promise that it's going to be pretty. In fact, so far this has proven to be the hardest time of all for me to choose to get help because I don't feel sick enough. I would almost say I'm being forced into it, but that's also not giving myself enough credit. I made the assessment. I showed up to assessment, and tomorrow I will ultimately be the one showing up for treatment and signing the paperwork. So yes, I need to give myself some credit, even if I was given an ultimatum by my treatment team. 

Lastly, I truly hope you all are doing well. I know it has been over  a year since I shared any writing, and I know I have worried some of you and lost touch with many of you. But today I can say that in choosing to use my words for good, I have also chosen to share my writing in order to give a voice to the voiceless and hopefully give someone even the smallest bit of hope. Because ultimately, the is hope. There is hope, and truth and light out there... Sometimes we just have to search for it in order to find it. 

I hope you find yourself well tonight and this week. I will find myself in a room full of broken people, each one of us sorting through our garbage. 

Peace to you tonight, 

❤️ Bella. 

PS. This was typed on my phone so I do apologize for any grammar mistakes. 😁